The Ward Churchill money trail

Posted: Feb 24, 2005 12:00 AM

To the casual observer, now-infamous University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill?who labeled 9/11 victims ?little Eichmanns??would seem little more than an unfortunate speck on the fringe of the far left. 

An investigestion by this journalist, however, uncovered substantial evidence suggesting otherwise.

The media was quick to describe Ward Churchill's 2002 essay?where he also wrote of the ?gallant sacrifices? of the ?combat teams? that killed almost 3,000 Americans?as ?little noticed.? (USA Today, February 9)  It was, however, noticed?and honored?by a liberal organization last year. 

Churchill adapted his essay into a book, ?On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,? which earned honorable mention for a human rights award from the Gustavus Myers Center in Boston?the third time the group had so honored the embattled professor.

At first blush, the Gustavus Myers Center could seem like a wacky, far-left ivory tower creation.   Receiving honorable mention for its 2003 award, for example, was a picture book of ?classic? gay erotica.  Witness the group?s own description of the book: ?Pencil, ink and chalk drawings claiming an erotic past as extremely important for notions of identity and community.?

Careful examination, however, reveals that the Myers Center is anything but fringe.  Listed on its website as ?sponsors? (a term  that is not defined) are mainstream liberal organizations such as the NAACP, the Urban League, the Center for Democratic Renewal, and the United Church of Christ.

And the foundations that fund the Myers Center?s sponsors are key financial backers of the American left, such as George Soros? Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation (which contributed to the anti-Bush America?s Coming Together).

The top funders of the Myers Center?s sponsors, and the amounts they gave in total since 2000, are:

· $650,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation, which has given over $5 million to ?reproductive? causes and nearly $1.7 million to various gun control groups.  It even gave $100,000 directly to the Blue Mountain abortion clinic in Montana, which has also received $50,000 from the (Ted) Turner Foundation.

· $1.3 million from the Open Society Institute

· almost $5 million from Lilly Endowments, which was founded by heirs of the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical fortune.  Though not typically known as a left-wing foundation, it has given, for example, more than $700,000 to Planned Parenthood.

· over $12.1 million from the Ford Foundation, most of which came in the form of $10.4 million in grants to the NAACP

Despite being sponsored by prominent, mainstream liberal organizations, the Myers Center?s honoring of Ward Churchill?s screed does not appear to be out the group?s character. 

Taking top honors for 2004, for example, is ?Civil Rights in Peril: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims,? which, according to the Myers Center web site, is about the ?relationship between accelerated repression of Muslims and Arabs domestically... and U.S. empire building abroad.?  Rants from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) aside, there is scant evidence to suggest ?accelerated repression of Muslims and Arabs? in America.

The center itself is led by a woman who seems to share a worldview similar to Prof. Churchill?s.  The Myers Center?s director, Loretta Williams, wrote in the magazine Response (published by United Methodist Women) in June 2002 that President Bush?s rhetoric on the war on terror was ?bloodthirsty and vengeful? and that it ?dehumanizes... Muslims, immigrants, and those with darker skin.?

Williams hinted later in the same piece that the United States also perpetrates terrorism: ?Terrorism can be used by the weak against the powerful or by the powerful against the weak.?  She also opposed military action in Afghanistan after 9/11, praising ?the courage? of communist sympathizer Barbara Lee (D-CA), the sole Congressional vote against that war.

Though the statements of Williams and Churchill would likely be patently offensive to most in the American electorate, they don?t seem that outside of a Democratic Party that embraces Michael Moore, the man who compared Iraqi terrorists to the ?Minutemen? who helped win America?s independence.

Since news broke that Churchill?s ?little Eichmanns? essay was honored by the Gustavus Myers Center, the group does not appear to have lost any of its sponsors.  Still listed are all 12 sponsors listed previously, including, oddly enough, B?Nai Brith International.  (B?Nai Brith did not immediately return a call seeking comment.)

It is not clear what role ?sponsors? play in, or how much they donate to, the Myers Center, and calls seeking comment from the center were not returned.  The Myers Center does not appear to file independent tax returns under its name, making it difficult to determine the group?s overall budget or the total amount of grants it has received.

Worth noting is that most of the uproar over Prof. Churchill?s venomous essay has come from family members of 9/11 victims, conservatives, and GOP politicians such as New York Gov. George Pataki and Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.  

Perhaps it is not surprising that the party of and Michael Moore does not condemn loudly Prof. Churchill?s equating 9/11 victims to Nazis.  But why haven?t the groups that sponsor the center that honored him for making that very comparison?  And what about the funders who indirectly helped make such an honor possible?